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The Body Beater

Gbenga Ogundare

A Uniquely Gifted Nigerian Slaps His Own Face to Make Music

Ololade Omotoye aka Jojo Bodybeats is not yet a star.

Soon, however, he will be. Omotoye is a practictioner of a unique artform he has christened Body-O-Phone.

Body-O-Phone involves producing rhythmic sounds by beating all parts of the body with the hand and objects like spoons. Whether with his hands or other objects, Omotoye's body produces the rhythm of any song. He plays the national anthem by vicious slaps to his face. All parts of his body produce tones of desired songs, using his body the way talking drummers use their drums.

During his recent solo mini-concert at the French Cultural Centre in Lagos, Omotoye thrilled the audience with music from his body. But how did this start? From his interest in drumming as a member of a church choir, he said.

"At age13, I slept one night and started playing imaginary drums in my dream. It stunned my late dad who became worried about my obsession with drumming right from the nursery school," he told TheNEWS.

That night, his late father woke him up and issued a stern warning that he should stay off the church choir where he had learnt how to play drums. "Then we were attending Celestial Church of Christ. But as providence would have it, dad died along the line and I became unstoppable in my drive to beat the drums and my body," said Omotoye.

With his father out of the way, Omotoye joined Tunde Kuboye's Jazz 38 band in 1995 as a drummer.

Soon, his interest in beating drums slipped behind that of beating his body. But how that happened remains a mystery to Omotoye. "It's a talent that I cannot really explain because I just found myself doing it without anybody teaching me," he said. Today Omotoye is as adept at beating drums as much as his body. His unique art has earned him recognition and numerous concert dates.

"I started with Jazz 38 and we played in a lot of places, especially at O'Jez. Apart from this, I also perform at Motherlan' alongside Lagbaja every last Friday of the month.

Then, I have also performed at the three editions of A Nite of a Thousand Laughs organised by Opa Williams, as well as a brief stint with Sunny Ade. More are still coming though," said the artiste.

Omotoye sure has a reason to hope. Aside from regular appearances at shows where he beats drums and body, Omotoye is also a trained hair stylist and a second year Theatre Arts undergraduate at the Lagos State University.

Does his face ache from the stinging slaps? "I don't feel any pain. I can't say whether I felt it when I started initially, but now, I slap my cheeks, hit my body and give myself hard knocks with ease. Besides, I do a lot of work out that put me in good shape," he explained.


Bishop Honours Daddy Fresh, Others, P.M. News (Lagos)

Posted to the web August 20, 2004

Basking in the euphoria of successful charitable gestures that have actually transformed most top Nigerian acts from obscure professionals to instant success, John Olise Ifeakachukwu a.k.a. Bishop is again set to make another statment tonight, with a music concert "Shout Of Joy" and awards to celebrated acts like Daddy Fresh, Sammy Okposo, Kefee, Mary Oyega, Singer Sam Wright, The Goshen Brodaz etc.

The event seriously tilts towards music also has provision for the acknowledgement of those who have made visible impact in the social evolution of Nigerians, especially in the religious and educational spheres.

Billed to be honoured tonight alongside these top acts are the General Overseer of Christ Kingdom Church (C.K.C), Okokomaiko, Bishop I. Ojo, who is also the Secretary of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria(PFN). Others expected to shine in those moments include the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), Most Senior Evangelist, Dapo Olayemi, Provost of Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Engineer (Dr.) A.K. Noah, LASU's Dean of Faculty of Engineering, (Dr.) P.A.O. Adegbayi among others.

Both awards, according to the Chairman of Organizing Committee, Evangelist (Prophet) Olawale Adewunmi, are meant to appreciate the individual efforts and contributions of the awardees to progress in the society. The committed chief co-ordinator divulged that the forum, the brainchild of Bishop Entertainment International, would also be used to discover various talents in the vineyard of God.

A church, 'sham weddings' and a £319,000 grant

By Rebecca Mowling, Evening Standard Crime Reporter And Ed Harris

25 August 2004

A church is at the centre of a scandal after it was alleged that bogus marriages have been conducted there for more than a decade.

Police believe hundreds of sham weddings have been performed since 1993 at the Celestial Church of Christ, a Grade II-listed building in Islington's Cloudesley Square.

The church has been granted £319,000 of public money from the Heritage Lottery Fund for repairs. But the clergyman who applied for the grant, Adeniran Magbagbeola, is suspected of conducting many of the alleged sham marriages.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Agha, 27, who blew the whistle on the alleged racket, is facing jail. He paid £5,700 for a bogus bride, fearing deportation when his visa ran out. He met his "wife-to-be", British citizen Itrat Fathma, for the first time on the steps of Brent Register Office.

It is alleged Agha went to police in revenge when the man suspected of being the scam's "Mr Big", Paul Arora, failed to sort out paperwork to validate the marriage.

At Brent magistrates' court last week, Agha, of Wembley, admitted perjury in relation to his wedding. He was remanded in custody, warned he could face up to seven years in jail and is due to be sentenced on 31 August. He also faces deportation. Arora, alleged to have "sold" brides for up to £8,000, is missing.

Outside court, Detective Sergeant Tracey Miller, of the Met's serious crime directorate, said of Arora: "We know he has arranged at least 100 bogus marriages in London register offices."

Nigerian-born Magbagbeola is a senior figure in the Celestial Church of Christ, which originated in west Africa. He applied for Lottery funding to repair the roof and stonework of the Islington church and was awarded £319,000, but is understood to have raised a further £180,000 from his congregation.

Repairs have begun but the Heritage Lottery Fund said the money would be paid directly to the builders, not to Magbagbeola, who lives with his wife and four children in Enfield. He was not available for comment. Senior evangelist Wole Famakinwa said the diocese had "disassociated" itself from Magbagbeola, adding: "He is not one of our evangelists."

Magistrates heard that when Agha and Fathma first went to the register office, Fathma told the Pakistani student: "This is my date of birth, father's name and occupation - remember them."

Arora was allegedly supposedto take care of the paperwork when Agha applied to the Home Office for leave to remain in Britain, but the application was rejected because of lack of proof of Fathma's identity.

Agha and Magbagbeola were among five people arrested after police raided the church last week. Magbagbeola has not been charged. The other three were bailed to appear in court later this year.


Crisis Rocks Ire-Akari Celestial Church

P.M. News (Lagos), May 28, 2004

Posted to the web May 28, 2004

A crisis of confidence is currently rocking the Ire-Akari, Isolo district of the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) with members calling for the expulsion of the elders of the church.

The clamour for the expulsion of the elders, PMNews gathered, followed attempts by the elders to allign the district with the Ketu district of the church.

This decision, it was learnt, did not go down well with majority of members of the church and honourary evangelists who felt that alligning with a faction of the church would destroy the peace of the district and lead to division of members among the two CCC factions contending for the post of the Pastor of the CCC World-Wide.

PMNews gathered that since the commencement of the crisis last year during which the Ketu-based Rev. Emmanuel Oshoffa-led CCC invaded the church and imposed its elders as administrators of the church, the Ire-Akari Parish has known no peace.

It was gathered that every Sunday service of the church was usually disrupted by the imposed elders who now move around with OPC members dressed in Cele gowns (Sutana).

Members of the church and many of the honourary evangelists of the church were said to have been barred from the church by the thugs and OPC members stationed at the entrance of the church.

Chairman, Council of Honourary Evangelists, HSE Adedotun Ojetoye, in a letter addressed to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 2, urged the police to intervene in the crisis rocking the church and prevent the looming bloodshed between members of the church who are in the majority and a few imposed elders from the Ketu district.

He appealed to the Zone 2 police boss to call the elders to order and advise them not to disturb members from attending the church.

It would be recalled that the church had been in turmoil since the demise of the former Spiritual Head and Pastor of the church, Rev. Abiodun Bada, in London.

Attempts to select a new Pastor and head of the church have been frustrated by members who usually disputed the mode and process for the selection of a new Pastor.

The last Pastor of the church, late Pastor Oluwatosin Jesse, was in the process of bringing the various factions in the church together when he suddenly took ill and died.

Since his death, the church has been factionalised into two with one faction led by Pastor Emmanuel Oshoffa, son of the late Founder and Spiritual Head of the church, Pastor S.B.J. Oshoffa. The other faction is led by Pastor Maforikan, former Head of the Nigerian Diocese of the church.


Celestial Crises

P.M. News (Lagos), June 1, 2004

Posted to the web June 1, 2004, Adewale Busari, Lagos

Crisis has been recurrent at Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) since the demise of its founder, reports ADEWALE BUSARI ince the demise of the spiritual leader and founder of the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), Pastor Bilewu Oshoffa, the church and its membership had been locked in acrimonious leadership crisis.

To solve the leadership crisis, they even violated the Biblical injunction that Christians should not drag themselves before worldly judges.

The legal tussle initiated by Pastor Owodunni against the late Pastor Abiodun Bada dragged on from the High Court to the Supreme Court, where it was held that if a new leader must emerge in the CCC, the church constitution must be amended to pave way for a pastor and spiritual leader.

Following the judgement, many of the high ranking officers in the church were criminally charged before an Ikeja Magistrate Court for conspiracy and forgery.

The leaders reportedly (unlawfully) forged the church constitution in other to pave way for the favoured candidate of theirs. Even the late Most Senior Evangelist, Gilbert Jesse, was so charged.

However, recent developments in the church promise to be even deadlier than witnessed in the past, as Satan or the deity may be dragged into the fray.

The current crisis, if not checked, some members of the church believe, would certainly drag the church into disrepute.

A press statement signed by GSE S. A. Ojetoye, Chairman, Council of Honorary Evangelists, told the world that members of dreaded Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) were recently invited to dislodge perceived opponents from a Celestial Church premises here in Lagos.

According to the statement, the unending feud has now assumed a worrisome dimension, as the Ketu Parish, which is described as the most "aggressive," has launched a vicious bid to take over the more financially buoyant parishes such as North Central Parish, Abuja which has now shifted base to CCC, Okeho, Ire Akari Estate Parish, Isolo.

The most ridiculous allegation, as contained in the statement is that most of the police posts in Okota, Zone 'D' , Isolo Road and Zone 2 Onikan are aware of the crisis, which has led to death threats being made against members, polarised the church and reduced the attendance of worshippers from 2000 to 300.

According to the statement, for the past 6 months, peace has eluded the parishes, with the active connivance of leaders of the Ketu Parish .

Ojetoye alleged that there was a prophecy that Isolo Parish should not join any of the contending parties, but should rather strive to resolve the crisis in the church.

In order to heed the prophecy, the Council of Honorary Evangelists reportedly got an injunction at an Ikeja High Court against the feuding elders. They, however, expressed surprise that despite the pendency of the matter in court, the Board of Trustees and the Minority Elders, with the collusion of law enforcement agents and OPC members, invaded the church and chased out the worshippers.

"Sunday services have, for the past one month, been marked by the presence of armed policemen as well as members of the OPC clothed in the church 'Sutana', mixing freely with members in front of the altar... the entrances to Ire Akari Parish is shut in broad light and padlocked, with tough-looking hoodlums manning the gates..." reads the statement.

A letter dated 26 April, 2004, sent to Zone 'D' Police Command, Isolo Road, Mushin, urged the police to call the two feuding parties to order for peace to reign in the church.

Several letters emanating from the office of Council of Honorary Evangelists are raising sundry allegations against the police and elders from Ketu Parish on the ground that some of the desperate elders are using their connection in the police to harass and intimidate the Ire Akari Parish into submission.

Another letter titled: "Appeal for Understanding And Cooperation In Charting The Way Forward For The Parish" dated 12 November, 2003 narrated the ugly developments so far and efforts made by concerned individuals to remedy the situation.

In order to restore sanity into the system, with a view to creating a conducive environment for worship, a joint meeting of the Council and Superior Leaders/World Leaders was called on Sunday, 9 November, 2003 with about 44 elders in attendance.

At the meeting, the following resolutions were arrived at: That the present Parochial Committee be prevailed upon to continue in office until further notice in order to restore sanity, that the council of Honorary Evangelists and Superior Leaders/Woliders mediate between the Council of Elders and the Parochial Committee, not excluding the aggrieved parties in the church at large and that the Council of Honorary and Superior Leaders/Woliders should mediate between the Parochial Committee and the Most Senior Evangelist F. A. Oladepo.

The letter jointly signed by Hon. Snr. Evang. Dotun Ojetoye and H. B. Olubode agreed that these steps would restore peace back to the church.

Obviously tired of the crisis, HSE Dotun Ojetoye, at one of the meetings, urged members to wake up from their slumber and answer the call of the saviour, so that their coming together would not always be for crisis management. He also exhorted members to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, for the edification of the body of Christ." But whether that unity would be guaranteed and the church would get out of the leadership crisis this time around are questions only time will answer.

Fire guts Celestial Church Parish in NY, Church in court battle



A raging electrical fire reduced a Queens church to rubble yesterday, leaving worshipers devastated but determined to win a court battle to keep their house of worship open.

Flames ripped through the Celestial Church of Christ in Far Rockaway just as six church leaders finished a meeting about 1:25 a.m. - a few hours after a usual late-night service ended.

"I was so scared. A woman yelled smoke and then the whole thing went boom," said church member Kettlie Louis, 49, of Queens. "I called this place home. I'm in shock."

More than 105 firefighters battled the blaze, which gutted the storefront Pentecostal church at 214 Beach 90th St., leaving bits of broken glass, chunks of charred furniture and twisted metal chairs in its wake.

As flames climbed to the roof, the ceiling over the small sanctuary collapsed and firefighters were ordered outside the white-brick building.

Worshipers escaped injury, but sobbed as firefighters took 50 minutes to get the fire under control. Six firefighters were taken to Peninsula Hospital with minor injuries and were expected to be released.

Fire marshals determined the blaze was accidental, igniting from an overloaded outlet near the church altar.

Worshipers kept a vigil all morning and vowed to rebuild - while continuing their court battle with the former owner, who sold them the church in 1997 for $180,000.

"We've poured our blood and sweat into this church," said secretary Ayo Johnson, 40. "This is where we plan to stay."

According to church leaders, the former owner kept the mortgage in his name and got a judge to foreclose on the 5,000 square-foot property in 2003, claiming administrators were behind in tax payments.

But within the past month, a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge ordered a stay on the foreclosure pending another hearing.

The ownership squabble led cops to cordon off the building until early afternoon, when they let church members inside.

Pastor Rev. Timothy Olatokun, 44, said neither flames nor foreclosure will discourage his 200 or so fellow members.

"We are going to rebuild," he said. "We won't give up."

Originally published on May 13, 2004


... As Abule Demolitionvictims Count Loses

This Day (Lagos), April 22, 2004

Some residents of Abule Ogunbiyi in Onigbongbo, Ikeja, Lagos were still basking in the euphoria of the Easter celebration when the bulldozer from the Lagos State Government under its Monitoring Team (GMT) demolished over 200 houses, leaving nothing for them to cherish, not even the land they claimed to have acquired from their forefathers.

The shanties homes, mostly constructed with woods and in some cases mud, were destroyed beyond description. The team did not even spare some places of worship, like the Ternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim and the Celestial Church of Christ. Abule Ogunbiyi village, as it was called has become a thorough fare for pedestrians going through Agege motor road to the Ikeja passport office.

When Thislife visited the scene last week, only about six armed mobile policemen, two bulldozers and some officials from the monitoring team were still there. At exactly 11.25 am, the bulldozer operators were clearing some of the debris they left undone. Also at the site were some of the affected residents who probably did not pack out their belongings due to the manner and alacrity the police and the demolition team swooped on them, were seen rummaging on the debris either looking for some essential properties. While some women and their kids were at the other side gathering woods.

Some of the residents said they were not informed by the Lagos State Government that there will demolish their homes, while others said they were taken unawares. However, whether they were informed or taking unaware did not deter the monitoring team to carry out their mandate.

A lady who identified herself as Joy, said she and her family have been living there for almost 18 years. She told Thislife that the State Government, a day before Good Friday visited the village and served them with quit notice letters at about 3.00pm. The letter directed that everybody should park out on or before Monday of the following week.

"When I came back from work, my sister showed me the letter. And on Tuesday the group came in with a bulldozer destroying everything in sight. I suspect that my bag full of clothe was buried somewhere here by the bulldozer. Even our furnitures were littered all over the place, because according to my sister, one of the policemen slapped her while she was trying to park some of our belongings", she explained.

The tear-gas they claimed thrown at them by police officers also compounded their predicaments. A woman was said to have been delivered of a premature baby during the demolition, apparently due to shock. Joy said that she is now living with her sister at Agege, a distance her children who school at Ikeja Police children school can not cope.

For Rachel, a mother of two, there are two reasons while she can never be happy with the present government in Lagos State. First, she was displaced to Oko-Oba in Agege where she spends about N200 to shuttle to Shogunle. Secondly, she cannot afford to pay for accommodation, which the cost has skyrocketed beyond her reach.

"How can we get a new apartment now. A room goes for N1,500 at Agege and you pay for about two years. The worst part of it is that the rainy season is just around the corner, our properties have been destroyed. What the government has done is bad. This means that they don't have feeling and human sympathy for people that voted them to power", she cried.

To Mr. Subairu Odere, the State Government has taken away the stone his forefathers laid in 1945 when the place was giving to one of his brothers, Mr. Audu when he came back from the Second World war. Tracing the genesis of how they came to settle at Abule Ogunbiyi, he narrated that the place was formerly a bush, reserved as a barrack for the military. And atimes when people don't have money to rent houses, the village would serve as a 'Haven' for them.

Odere told Thislife that they never had problem with anybody nor fight with any government of the day, instead, the only problem they had was with snakes since the bush was thick to harbor dangerous animals.

"I came to stay with my brother in Abule Ogunbiyi in 1952. Government later came to build houses around the area but never disturbed us. Gen. Yakubu Gowon came to power and did not disturbed us or ask us to quit the place. When Alhaji Lateef Jakande became the governor of Lagos State, he also left us because it has been long we settled there. "Even when Gen. Abdulkareem Adisa was minister of works and housing and visited this place, he told us that no government in power would dislocate us, nor any subsequent military rules. But when Governor Ahmed Tinubu came to power, he decided to destroy the place. There was no prior notice. The police threw tear-gas on us and booted us out without allowing us to retrieve our properties", he lamented. Odere said that most of the residents have been displaced to Agege, while some now sleep along the railway lines without food and enough clothing. He lamented that even animals can not be treated the way and manner some of them were chased out of the place where they have been living for years, established themselves and reared children. "This government has no sympathy. During elections, they asked us to vote for them. We don't have power to fight government because they are like God. But when you ask God for something, He will give you, so we are appealing to Government to consider our plight and find a place for us and also give us some money to alleviate our problems" Odere pleaded. The displaced residents alleged that the Chairman of Onigbongbo local government, Mr. Idowu Obasa had boasted that government came in the manner they did because if they were allowed a second, they may go to court thereby distorting government plans to demolish the place. Thislife reliably gathered from the Ministry of Physical Planning and Regional Development that the land falls within the 7,300 hectares parcel acquired by the State Government. Some of the estate now quarters the Government Reserved Area (GRA), Police College, Immigration office and the General Hospital amongst others. The left over, which is about 1.118 hectares is the place now regarded as Abule Ogunbiyi. Government on its part alleged that the land had no approval and has become a hideout for robbers. It was gathered that since the 2000 till the time the demolition took place, the "illegal occupants" were constantly reminded of government interest to take over its property. The exercise was also in line with the review of the expired master plan of Lagos State, which was distorted by the military. Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Hakeem Gbaja-Biamila, an engineer, told Thislife that as government begin to look wholistic at re-structuring development in Lagos, there is need to reorganise certain areas, and the land in question happened to fall into the area government intended to improve on. "The occupants were living on illegal land. And the unfortunate thing that happens when people stay on government land for so long, they tend to believe that they have the right to it. Government can sleep for 50 years, but the moment it wakes-up and maybe the law catches up with defaulters in their illegality, they complain", he said. On the request for compensation by victims, the Commissioner said that such a plea should not arise because there was no approval or title for the occupants. In a situation where they are illegal squatters, nothing of such nature, except sympathy could be extended to them. He said in the first place the occupants were not paying money to the government, but for the fact they took advantage of the weakness in law and settled there does not quarantee them rightful ownership. Gbaja-Biamila, though not holding brief for the police, said the essence of deploying them to the venue was to give cover to the monitoring team against those who may decide to be violent. But in any situation where the rights of the victims were infringed, with the help of video clips, he would be able to see what he could do to them as succour. The demolition exercise he said, is an on-going process, aimed at keeping the metropolitan part of the city at its best developed level. He pointed out that where villages exist, government would work through the urban renewal programme to disseminate information of government activities in such an area. "The intention of government is not to be cruel as alleged by the victims. Tinubu's government is one with a human face, that takes deep consideration of the poor. But what we are trying to do is to build a city and not shanties that would inhabit the 25 million people who may reside in Lagos before 2015 as projected by the UN. "Accommodation problem is not only peculiar to Lagos, but a Nigeria problem. A lot of work is going on to resolve that and I know we are finding a solution to building social housing, which will accommodate both the poor. A design that would be supported by the affluent, both corporate bodies and the government", he said.

No Crisis in Celestial Church

This Day (Lagos), April 20, 2004

Pastor of the Celestial Church of Christ and a representative of the Sup. Evang. (Prophet) N. O. Akinbulejo, Host/District Shepherd in Charge, has debunked the notion of crisis within the fold, accusing the media of originating the idea.

"We are not in crisis in the Celestial Church, we are only in Christ and that is the basis for the Celestial Church of Christ. The idea of crisis is a creation of the media but worldwide, the Celestial Church of Christ is one body, with one purpose", he said at an interactive session with the media on Sunday.

The programme held at the Ikeja Parish II, Ogba, of the church was to officially launch the "Horeb Crusade - 2004" with the theme 'Operation Break-up the Desert' which is scheduled to hold between Sunday, May 2 and Sunday May 8, 2004.

He added that the church was not drifting towards pentecostalism as this forms the original basis for the founding of the church, since pentecostalism was an out-pouring of the spirit and that those who believe in the out-pouring of the spirit have no cause to be skeptical about maintaining the original doctrine of the church.


A bundle of joy... 37 Months After

BY YINKA ADERIBIGBE, The Guardian, Lagos Nigeria, Saturday April 10, 2004

Just like any other normal human being,the bundle of joy was expected in nine months, all things being equal.But Mrs Kuburat Amosu had to wait for 37 agonising months to carry her pregnancy. She miraculously gave birth a fortnight ago.And the world literally stood still for her during the christening of her baby.

EVER imagined a pregnancy that would defy the nine months' gestation period, stretch up to 37 months, and the delivery would still be smooth

That was the experience of a Mrs. Kuburat Adenike Amosu, who had to abandon her petty trading, and receded into religious seclusion at the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), Onibuore Parish, off Old Akute Road, Iju, a Lagos suburb where she was eventually delivered of a bouncing baby boy.

Kuburat, whose delivery inside the church caused a stir in the neighbourhood, said she went through hell, in the hands of "those who never wanted me to have the baby at all."

Speaking shortly after the church sponsored a lavish naming ceremony, Kuburat said her life has been one of perpetual struggle with forces of darkness. "I had to undergo a series of intercessory prayers and deliverance sessions before the spell cast on me, hindering me from consummating a relationship, was finally broken.

A few months after the prayers held for me at this church, I met this man who eventually proposed to me and a few months later, we got married.

Her joy knew no bounds when she eventually married in 2000 and was swept off her feet in joy when a pregnancy test conducted in February 2001 confirmed that she was pregnant."I had a tall dream about the coming baby. I had even started shopping for baby clothes and was dreaming of seeing him grow up under my strict supervision. I never knew that with the pregnancy I had begun a journey into the unknown, one that but for God, would have resulted in my death," she said.

The first omen that something was wrong reared its head the fourth month when she discovered that the baby was no longer developing.Shortly before then, she recollected that she had had a nightmare in which a woman she could not identify told her she would never be able to deliver the baby alive.

"Although I immediately took steps on the dream to destroy the spell, I knew I was in deep trouble when I didn't feel the baby again, and I was unable to put to bed in November when I was medically due."

By December 2001, she moved permanently into the Celestial Church where the church shepherd Senior Evangelist Prophet Jeremiah Olanrewaju Solarin, provided her spiritual succour and a shelter.There, she began a series of routine deliverance programmes, to counter the spiritual attacks, which, according to her, became very frequent.

"Even though the pregnancy had since stopped developing, I received several diabolic shots, aimed at the baby. At times, it would come to my side, or my breast, legs, arms, stomach. No part of me was safe from these diabolic shots.I reacted in different ways to these shots. It was either I became inexplicably tired, went into coma, was covered all over with strange boils, or vomited heavily and intermittently."

All through all of these attacks however, Kuburat said initially, she would feel the baby move violently inside her until late 2002 when it suddenly stopped, a development that heightened her fears.

" It was not until a medium in the church gave me a 'message' that God had removed the child to safety in the face of the heavy bombardment that I was facing, that I regained my peace of mind."

Meanwhile, her husband who could no longer withstand the horror his wife was passing through, relocated to Germany.By 2003, it was only the church Pastor that remained convinced that Kuburat was pregnant.

Even when, according to the Pastor, her husband had telephoned in July 2003 and pleaded that the man of God allow the woman to go and flush her stomach and be relieved of the "eternal bondage,' he stood his ground, based on the "Holy Spirit instruction that He would perfect His word in the woman's life," Prophet Solarin said.

Around November same year, Kuburat herself also considered the same option. Too ashamed to venture out again because she had become a laughing stock in the neighbourhood and had been long abandoned to her fate by family and friends, she told the pastor that she would opt for the flushing of her system.

Barely a day after the discussion, another medium came with the message that she should not try it. "At our Friday vigil, I received a message that I should stop contemplating flushing my system. I was told that the baby is still there, but if I tried to flush it, the doctors would not see any trace of it and I would die in the process," she said.

A few months after the message, her case was divinely transformed as the foetus which had stopped growing, which, indeed, a scan conducted in 2002 had declared negative, started growing.By January she said the pregnancy had become so advanced that Pastor Solarin had to order her to go for another scan test.

The report not only confirmed the presence of a baby, it also gave details that she would give birth mid-March, latest 24th, she said with relish.Senior Evangelist Solarin said Kuburat's case was that of testing the endurance of God's promise and the need for human beings to wait patiently for it.

"This is a woman who went through hell. She suffered. She was really punished by enemies who never wished she had the fruit of the womb. Today, however, God has turned her pains and troubles around and replaced her cries with joy".

He said the woman who came to the church four years ago and had remained steadfast even in the face of trial, remained a shinning example to other women who are in similar or worse situations, to put all their trust in God for their peculiar miracle.

He added that he was approached several times by his superiors in the ministry to release the woman and stop fuelling her emotions that she could still give birth."Even this February, I was still counselled to stop her from attending the church as she could be a bad spiritual influence. Those who thought they knew better told me she wasn't pregnant but God's counsel dictated otherwise," Solarin said.

He disclosed that God further confirmed his words in Kuburat's life in February when one of the church's prophets prophesied the exact date she would deliver which coincided with the scan he had ordered in January.

On how she was eventually delivered of her baby, Solarin revealed that up till 5p.m on the day she would put to bed, she felt nothing.  "I was agitated when even after 6.30p.m we finished our regular Tuesday programme, she told me she felt nothing. Then, I directed her to go round the church seven times; if she got tired, she should relax, then continue.

"She had barely finished the first round, when she felt she should relax. Then a nurse who is also a church member came and asked her to accompany her, for further exercise. She was about to stand up when she felt the first contraction. The whole thing (delivery) was under 10 minutes. While I was still looking for a vehicle that would take her to a nearby maternity hospital, she delivered right in the church premises with the assistance of the nurse. The baby and the placenta came virtually together," he disclosed.

Although the husband has been contacted, the church, he said, decided to glorify God for the miracle and had shouldered the naming ceremony of the baby.  And as a further testimony of the uniqueness of the baby's birth, Solarin further revealed that his name, Joshua Oluwapelumi, Temitayo came through a prophecy.

The church's Secretary, Elder Olayinka Fagbamigbe said the miracle baby further confirmed that "God is still able to confound the wise and make mockery of science.Can anybody believe that a miracle of this nature can happen in a celestial church. And the fact that the baby is very normal and has no abnormal features to attest to the several months he overstayed, could only be the handiwork of God. It is a miracle that attests to the fact that God is still alive and is still performing miracles."

Not only Solarin and his secretary believe this, the congregation and stupefied neighbors and well wishers took turns to behold the child and congratulate the mother. Hundreds of them who witnessed the naming were united in their prayers for continued divine protection on the baby and his mother.


'Noisy' church is made to stop

South London Press, Mon Mar 22, 2004

A CHURCH has been ordered to stop using its current premises as a place of worship.

Environmental enforcement officers served a noise nuisance abatement order on the Celestial Church of Christ Revelation Parish after neighbours complained of loud drumming and amplified singing.

Lewisham councillors refused the church permission to continue using the premises in Elm Lane, Catford, at a planning meeting on Thursday.

Neighbour Lynn Dumberell told councillors the noise on Sundays was "atrocious".

The original noise abatement notice was served on October 27 and council officers carried out follow-up visits on February 1, 8 and 17. They found the order was being breached.

Church representative Bobby Adepetun said soundproofing could be put into the ceiling and the church was willing to suspend the use of musical instruments until the work is complete.

Afterwards he told the South London Press: "I don't think there is doubt that the applicant is going to be making an appeal against the decision."

Court Dismisses Gani's Case On Ex-Leaders' Remuneration

This Day (Lagos)

February 25, 2004

Posted to the web February 25, 2004

Lillian Okenwa


A Federal High Court Abuja, yesterday dismissed the suit filed by human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, seeking to stop the implementation of the provisions for the remuneration and other benefits to former Presidents, ex-Heads of State, their spouses and dependants from public funds.

In a judgment delivered by Justice Chinyere Chikere, the court held that Fawehinmi failed to show that his civil rights and obligations as a citizen would be adversely affected by the implementation of the provisions contained in Decree No 32 of 1999.

According to Chikere: "Legal standi (legal right) would only be accorded to a plaintiff who has shown that his civil rights and obligations are affected or was in imminent danger of being affected by the acts of another person or by a group of persons. In the present case, the plaintiff has failed to show that his interest would be prejudiced by the implementation of the provisions of decree no 32 of 1999. See Supreme Court's decisions in the cases of Senator Adesanya Vs. President of the Senate and Evangelist J.K Owodunni Vs. Registered trustees of Celestial Church of Christ Worldwide (2001), once it has been shown that a plaintiff has no locus standi, it was unnecessary to delve into the merit of a case.

"The mere fact that an act was unconstitutional did not mean that the interest of a person has been injured as a result of such infraction of the constitution. Looking at the affidavit deposed to on behalf of the plaintiff, there is no evidence of any private right of the plaintiff that has been infringed upon or injured by the implementation of Decree 32 of 1999, which he seeks to invalidate.

"In the circumstance I hold that the plaintiff has failed to show that he has sufficient interest, which he seeks to protect in the matter. I hereby strike out the suit."

Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, had on May 10, 1999, promulgated the Remuneration of former Presidents and Heads of State (And Other Ancillary Matters) Decree No 32 of 1999 with effect from January 1, 1999.

In the said decree, former Heads of State and Presidents and Chiefs of General Staff and Vice-Presidents, their spouses and survivors were to be paid N350,000.00 and N250,000.00 respectively as monthly remunerations among other perquisites of office.

They are also entitled to three unspecified vehicles to be replaced by the Federal Government every four years, free medical services anywhere in the world and 30 days annual vacation within and/or outside the country.

Under the decree, their spouses and families are also to enjoy the same facilities as provided in the enabling enactment.

Irritated by the knowledge that it would cost the Federal Government over N2 billion annually to provide these facilities, Fawehinmi went to court to challenge the implementation of the provisions in the decree.

He also sought an injunction restraining President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Attorney General of the Federation, their agents or privies from implementing or giving effect to the provisions of the decree.

The Federal Government filed a preliminary objection, challenging the plaintiff's action on the premise that the suit had failed to disclose any reasonable cause of action and the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute it.


Sitting in judgment

Complex dispute in churches often decided by metro courts

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/04/04

On a recent Sunday morning, the Rev. Cleveland Thomas took to the tiny pulpit at Rocky Mount Baptist Church to preach about the power of uniting for a common cause.

Jean Shifrin/STAFF
The Rev. Cleveland Thomas

"I was thinking we need to be led to God," Thomas said later, explaining his sermon. "If that happens, we can settle anything."
The sermon came two days after some in Thomas' congregation turned to a higher power — in this case, a Henry County Superior Court judge — to try to have him removed as pastor.
Although houses of worship are known as places of forgiveness, court cases such as the one involving Rocky Mount are becoming more frequent as churches turn to judges to resolve internal disputes.
"It is an issue that will continue to increase because there are clergy who believe 'I will do what I want to do. Do not question me,' " said Eric Gerard Pearman, an assistant professor of church history at Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta.
In March 2003, the Celestial Church of Christ near Stone Mountain asked a DeKalb County judge to bar three former members who were accused of stealing documents from a church safe. The judge dismissed the case.
In September, the former pastor of Gwinnett's River of Life Church took his flock to court after it stopped making monthly payments of $9,000 as part of his severance package. A jury ruled against the pastor, saying he did not tell church leaders about a $4 million church debt.
In Henry County, the court case stems from a complicated dispute over who controls Rocky Mount Baptist Church — Thomas or Johnnie Arnold, a longtime member who claimed title to the church.
"It's tearing up the church," said Clifford Arnold, a church member who is siding with his cousin Johnnie.
Henry County Superior Court Judge Arch McGarity, who presided over the Rocky Mount case, said it's naive to think houses of worship wouldn't turn to the courts to settle disputes.
"To expect anything different from the church," he said, "is a fallacy."
Rocky Mount Baptist Church was founded in 1846 in Rex, a small, close-knit town that straddles the Clayton-Henry County line.
Across the street from the red brick church with a white wooden cross, you'll find a cemetery where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s paternal grandmother, Delia King, was buried in 1924.
Over the years, many of the church's members died or moved away, and the congregation had dwindled to 11 to 30 members, depending on who's providing the figures.
Both Thomas and Arnold have been members since 1999. The title to the church belonged to its trustees. By last year, Arnold's aunt, Estella Weems Arnold, was the last surviving trustee.
In October, Arnold had his aunt sign over ownership of the church property. She then died in December.
A month later, in January, Arnold filed a request in Superior Court for a permanent restraining order to keep Thomas from coming to the church, which Arnold claimed he owned.
Arnold said Thomas wouldn't listen to the church's members. The pastor, Arnold said, was responsible for "turmoil, grief, discord and disrespect" in the church.
Arnold visited several church members at their homes to gather support to remove Thomas, pastor of the church for more than two years.
Arnold says six of the church's 11 members voted to remove Thomas.
But Thomas, who estimates church membership at about 30, continued to hold services.
He said Arnold led the rebellion against him because he wouldn't recognize Arnold as a deacon.
On Feb. 6, supporters of Arnold and Thomas sat on opposite sides of a Henry County courtroom.
McGarity, the judge, ruled legal title of the church did not belong to Arnold. That's because Arnold's aunt signed over ownership to someone else in 2000.
He also declined Arnold's request to remove Thomas as Rocky Mount's pastor.
On Saturday, Thomas will meet with church members to try to restore peace to the congregation.
"I didn't want it to come to this," Thomas said.


Ding-dong over noise

By Peter Harrison, South London Press

A CHURCH faces closure - because its services are too noisy.

The Celestial Church of Christ Revelation Parish moved into its first-floor premises in Elm Lane, Catford, in October.

Since then, neighbouring residents say the noise has been unbearable.

Last night, councillors on the Lewisham West planning committee were expected to order the church to close down.

The debate follows complaints about noise to the council's environmental health team.

If agreed, the church will be given three months to quit the building.

Single mum Lynn Dumberell, of Elm Lane, said: "It's awful. They chant, scream and bash their drums late into the night.

"I've spoken to them about the problem and they seemed quite nice. They said they would try to keep the volume down - but nothing has changed."

She said her son could not sleep at the house on Sundays because the service, which runs to about 10pm or later, was so noisy.

Stella Bennett, 89, of Bargrove Crescent, said her life had been ruined by the din.

She added: "I've lived here for 50 years. It was such a peaceful area.

"Now the noise has become unbearable."

The church was established in Nigeria in September 1947.

Members believe it was created after an angel "bathed in light" visited worshippers.

Services involve prayer and chanting as well as the use of drums and songs. Members say they make every effort to reduce the noise.

Celestial Church of Christ spokesman Ade Olunlade said: "We only use the drums on a Sunday for about 15 minutes.

"I'm surprised that people are complaining as we have been told that we bring life and security to the area."

He said the council had contacted them and suggested they soundproofed the roof to prevent noise escaping.

He added: "We were also told that the noise wasn't that bad."


Bidding farewell to 2003 

Daily Times of Nigeria, Nigeria, January 7, 2004

On the very first day of the beginning of the “ember” months, Nigerians were greeted

with the sad news of the death of Etsu Nupe, Dr. Umaru Sanda Ndayako. The late Ndayako who was 66, chaired the Technical Committee on the Review of Local Government Structure set up by the Federal Government.

The following day, September 2, Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi lost his mother, Chief Munirat Fawehinmi. She was 88.

The long arm of the law caught up with the immediate past Managing Director of Bank of the North, Alhaji Mohammed Shettima Bulama, as he was arraigned before a Lagos Federal High Court on September 4, charged with stealing N653 million. The day also witnessed the inauguration by the Federal Government of a national body to undertake a crusade for peace nationwide. Christened “Peace Forum”, the body comprises many eminent Nigerians from the six geo-political zones of the country.

Relating to elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also on September 4, redeployed 29 of its state Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC).

However, on a sad note, no fewer than 4,000 Nigerians living in the Baraj area of Cameroon fled and sought refuge in Taraba State after a bloody clash with the Muskum tribesmen from Cameroon. The fighting broke out over a disagreement during a fishing expedition.

On September 5, the Federal and State Governments across the nation marked their first 100 days in office in the current dispensation with most opinion polls scoring the Federal Government low particularly on the economy. For the members of the legal profession, September 8 was the day 15 eminent lawyers entered the privileged club of the Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) to bring the number to 203. Chief Fredrick Rotimi Alade Williams and the late Dr. Bekinbo Graham-Douglas were the first to be conferred with the rank on April 3, 1975.

The same September 8, Kaduna State and indeed many Nigerians were in mournful mood as property worth over N500 million were destroyed while thousands of people were rendered homeless when River Kaduna overflowed its banks and submerged several streets and housing estates. The flood was caused by the collapse of Igabi Dam.

And in not too distant Akpogu, a settlement near the Murtala Mohammed Bridge in Lokoja, another tragedy struck, as no fewer than 70 people were burnt to death in a multiple motor accident along the Lokoja-Abuja Road. A luxury bus travelling from Abuja to Lokoja had collided with a truck.

September 9 – eminent scientist, Edward Teller died of stroke in Stanford, California, USA at 95. Widely known as the Father of the H-Bomb, Teller played a key role in US defence and energy policies for more than half a century, championing the development of the atomic and hydrogen bombs. He was also a strong advocate of nuclear power and the Strategic Defence Initiative Missile Defence System, dubbed ‘Star Wars’.

The Anambra State crisis which began with the abduction of Governor Chris Ngige on July 10, took a new turn on September 9, when the Deputy Governor, Dr. Okey Udeh was impeached by the state House of Assembly, 103 days after his assumption of office.

In far away Belgium, five Belgian police officers accused of killing a Nigerian asylum seeker, went on trial on September 10. Twenty-year old Semira Adamu, had died in 1998 during attempts to expel her from Belgium. Similarly in the United States, former treasurer at Enron, Mr. Ben Glisan became the first executive to be jailed for his part in the huge financial scandal at the firm.

The Niger State Governor, Abdulkhadir A. Kure on September 11, named a serving Army Colonel, Yahaya Abubakar as the new Etsu Nupe and Emir of Bida to replace the late Dr. Umaru Sanda Ndayako. Coincidentally, the President, Olusegun Obasanjo also on the same day, named a former Finance Minister, Mallam Adamu Ciroma as Chairman of the Technical Committee on the Review of Local Government Councils previously chaired by Ndayako.

The tiny West African country of Guinea Bissau on September 14, witnessed the sacking of its President, Kumba Yala in a bloodless military coup. The junta was led by the country’s Armed Forces Chief, General Verissimo Seabra Correia.

And in Sweden, the hope of the European Union (EU) having the Euro accepted as their currency suffered a major blow on September 15 when Swedes voted overwhelmingly against the replacement of their currency with Euro.

The war on cult activities on campuses recorded a major success on September 18 when the Nigeria Police nabbed 22 students of the University of Calabar during a cult initiation ceremony. The students aged between 20 and 22 years were arrested by a team of crack policemen in a bush near the University’s library around in the wee hours of the day.

Subscribers of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) in Nigeria made good their threat to boycott all GSM services in the country as many Nigerians switched off their handsets on September 19 to protest high tariffs as well as demand for improvement in the service delivery of the operations.

That same day, September 19, the Christian faith worldwide lost an icon when Reverend Kenneth Erwin Hagin passed on. He was 86. Hagin, an internationally reknown preacher, teacher and author, was in the ministry for nearly 70 years.

It was pandemonium at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos on September 24, when the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) threw the nation’s foremost airport into darkness following the disconnection of electricity over debts owed it by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). As a result of the blackout, vital segments of both the domestic and international wings of the airport such as runways and offices of the FAAN and Nigerian Airports Management Authority (NAMA) were run on generator.

A foremost Nigerian educationist , chieftain of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and senator representing Ogun West Senatorial District, Professor Emmanuel Afolabi Olabimtan, died in a ghastly motor accident on September 24.

Robbery kingpin suspect, Hamani Tijani was finally apprehended and brought to Nigeria on September 25 to face robbery-related charges. But in contrast of fate, Amina Lawal, the single mother who was sentenced to death by stoning by a Sharia Court in Bakori, Katsina State, in March 2002, had her sentence quashed on the same day September 25 by the Katsina State Sharia Court of Appeal headed by Grand Khadi, Aminu Katsina.

Unfortunately, however, an oil spill fire explosion in Kalabileama community in Nembe Local Government of Bayelsa State on September 25 claimed the lives of seven persons including a woman and her eight-month-old baby strapped to her back.

Equally disturbing to most Nigerians was the sudden death of on September 25, of one of Nigeria’s most flamboyant politicians, former Senate President, and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) presidential running mate, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo. He was 61.

Nigeria’s attempt to join the league of space explorers got a boost on September 27 when it successfully launched its own satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. It was done in collaboration with the Russia Space Agency.

From the Vatican City in Italy, came the cheery news of the elevation of the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, 63-year-old Dr. Anthony Olubunmi Okogie as a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II. With his elevation, Okogie joined the list of electors of Pope.

On September 28, a massive blackout struck almost all of Italy leaving nearly 57 million people without power supply, stranding planes and trains and leading to traffic accidents as drivers sped through darkened streets.

Also on September 28, the Nigerian Police announced it had handed over 116 children believed to be victims of human trafficking to Republic of Benin. The victims, all boys aged between five and 17 years were believed to have been smuggled through the Idiroko Border into Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Nigeria’s international diplomatic profile soared on September 29 when Professor Michael Omolewa was elected President of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). It was the first time a Nigerian would lead the UN body.

On the same day, September 29, Nigeria finally gave up its bid to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Sports and Social Development Minister, Musa Mohammed said the country was over-burdened by other commitments including the hosting of the 8th All African Games.

While Nigerians were celebrating the nation’s 42nd independence anniversary on October 1, the Federal Government announced its deregulation of the downstream of the country’s oil sector thus raising the pump price of petroleum products per litre. Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), ANPP’s Presidential flag bearer on October 6 accused the Police of hastening the death of Dr. Chuba Okadigbo through throwing of teargas at a political rally attended by the latter. He made the allegation on Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

An American, Paul Hauterbur and a Briton, Peter Mansfield, emerged the winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in recognition for their leading role in developing modern hospital scanners.

On October 8, the National Judicial Council (NJC) suspended controversial Justice of the Federal High Court, Wilson Samuel Egbo-Egbo on account of a controversial order he gave, which in the eyes of NJC brought the nation’s judicial system to ridicule.

Rather than go on a nationwide strike as proposed by the NLC, the strike was suspended as a result of the labour organisation’s agreement with major oil marketers to revert to the old price of N34 per litre of petrol instead of N40.00.

In Lagos, the cold hands of death snatched one of the four factional leaders of the Celestial Church of Christ worldwide (CCC), Reverend Gilbert Jesse on October 6. He was said to have died of heart related ailments.

On October 9, a former ace journalist and First Republic politician, Chief Melie Chukelu Kafu (MCK) Ajuluchukwu, died at the age of 82.

The Edo State Police Command on October 10 paraded before the public no fewer than 20 students of Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, who were suspected cultists, involved in the killing of five students of the same institution.

The Nobel Peace Prize for the year 2003 was awarded to Iranian writer, lawyer and human rights activist, Shirin Ebadi. She is the first Iranian to win the prize and the 11th female winner of such prize.

A High Court Judge, Chief Bassey Effiong Bassey, who was dismissed from the service of the Southeastern State 31 years ago, precisely in 1972, at the age of 49 was pardoned by the Cross River State Government and so now entitled to receive his gratuity and pension.

In the United States of America, doctors at children’s medical centre in Dallas successfully separated two-year-old Egyptian conjoined twins. The twins were joined in the head, similar to Iranian conjoined 29-year-old female twins who died in July during an unsuccessful surgical operation to separate them.

A new dawn broke on war-weary Liberia on October 14, which businessman Gyude Bryant took over as interim leader of the country in a ceremony attended by President Olusegun Obasanjo among several other African leaders and United Nations officials.

A set of triplets delivered at the National Hospital Abuja, were reportedly detained alongside their mother, Mrs. Clara Akinbowale, several days after they were delivered on October 5 at the National Hospital. According to reports, their father was unable to pay the hospital bill of N110, 000 bill.

China became the third country in the world to have a man on space when it sent Yang Hiwei, an astronaut into space in a 58.8 metre-high rocket on October 15. The day also marked the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

Also on October 15, the Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun, returned another batch of 74 under-aged Beniniose children to their country. The children were allegedly sold into slavery in Nigeria by their abductors.

At the 8th All Africa Games, which ended on October 18, Nigeria topped the medals table with a total of 231 medals, which included gold, silver and bronze. Egypt came second with 218 medals, while South Africa came third with 174 medals. Aside Nigeria’s victorious outing at the games, a mid-day rainfall, however, wreaked havoc at the Velodrome centre in Abuja, and thus nearly marred the closing ceremony.

The longest serving Director of the Nigerian Law School, Chief Emmanuel Babatunde Abiodun Ibironke (SAN) died exactly 70 days to his 70th birthday on October 19.

The Sobowale-Davies conjoined twins, who underwent a successful surgical operation at John Hopkins University Teaching Hospital in U.S.A. returned to Nigeria on October 26.

The Concorde aircraft was phased out from global airspace when it had its last flight on October 23.

The Ikemba of Nnewi, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegu Ojukwu, clocked 70 on November 1.

The effort of the United States and its allies to secure peace in Iraq suffered a setback on November 2 when Iraqi guerillas shot down an American helicopter killing at least 15 soldiers and wounding 21 others.

On November 3, a new Group Managing Director was appointed for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The new Managing Director, Mr. Funso Kupolokun replaced Dr. Jackson Gauis Obaseki.

The earth’s atmosphere on November 4 experienced a magnetic bombardment as the sun unleashed its largest recorded flare in 25 years. The blast sent billions of tonnes of super hot gas into space with some of it directed to the earth.

Obong Philip Effiong, a former deputy to Biafran warlord, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu during the 30-month-civil war that ravaged the country, passed way on November 7. He was 79 years old at the time of his death.

The long awaited reintroduction of the monthly environmental sanitation exercise by the Lagos State Government finally made its debut on November 8. The exercise was part of the recently launched Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI).

The Arabian city of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia was thrown into mourning on November 9, when suicide bombers struck and killed 11 people, while 122 were wounded including 36 children.

On November 10, Zimbabwean first president, Canaan Sodindo Banana, alleged to be a homosexual died at the age of 67. Banana served as Zimbabwean first non-executive president after independence in 1980 until 1987 when President Robert Mugabe took over as executive president.

Former Zambian President, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda was in Nigeria on November 16 as a guest lecturer at the seventh Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe Memorial Lecture.

Georgia’s veteran President, Edward Shevardnadze resigned on November 23 amidst mounting protest, which followed November 2 parliamentary polls in the country.

Tragedy struck on November 24 at the Patrice Lumunba Peoples Friendship University, Moscow, Russia, when 32 students died in an inferno caused by a spark from suspected faulty electrical short-circuit. The students were burnt in the huge fire that swept through their hostel.

The sprawling town of Ikenne in Ogun State and hometown of late elder statesman, Chief Obafemi Awolowo played host to hundreds of eminent Nigerians and politicians as Chief. Mrs. Hannah Idowu Dideolu marked her 88th birthday on November 25.

A Gold medallist in cycling competition at the 8th All African Games held in Nigeria, Ibrahim Musa was shot dead by Policemen on November 25 on the Lokoja-Okene Road, in Kogi State. The star cyclist was travelling to Lagos in a Mercedez benz car for some shopping ahead of his wedding when he was killed with two other occupants of the car, who were Muhammed Salisu, a Higher National Diploma student of Kaduna Polytechnic and Mallam Sadiq Abubakar Mahmud, Zonal Manager of a clearing and forwarding company in Lagos.

On November 26, Nigeria’s effort to recover looted funds lodged in foreign banks began to yield fruits as the Federal Government announced that $149 million (about N20 billion) was paid into the country’s account by the small Island of Jersey, off the coast of the United Kingdom. The late Military ruler, General Sani Abacha, allegedly stole the money according to government’s report.

The spate of sack reached the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on November 26 when 1,388 of its staffers were retrenched. The corporation explained it was carried out to transform and reposition it for the challenges ahead.

Efforts to ensure the security of Nigerians was bolstered on November 26 when the Nigerian Customs and Service (NCS) intercepted a cargo carrying about 38, 000 cartridges on Lagos-Benin Expressway. The cargo was intercepted at the Itele Junction on the Benin-Ore road when the agency’s anti-smuggling squad flagged down a “911” truck marked AA 746 MNE.

The show of shame on Nigerian campuses was relived again when Police arrested four students of the Lagos State University (LASU) for armed robbery on November 26. Of the four, three were students of the Faculty of Engineering; Epe Campus while the fourth is a student of International Relations, Ojo Campus in Lagos.

In another operation carried out by the Police same day, a young man suspected to own a sprawling shrine where human beings are slaughtered for ritual purposes in Oru Ahiara Mbaise, Imo State was arrested. The young man, identified as Cornelius Nwogu by the traditional ruler of the area, Eze Joe Oleka had allegedly killed about 200 people.

The Nigerian Police were, however, not so lucky on November 28, when it lost about six of its men to daredevil armed robbers in a daylight robbery that took place in Lagos. According to the Lagos State Police Spokesman, Emmanuel Ighodalo (ASP), five of the policemen in the rank and file were attacked in Agege area, while the remaining one was shot in Ketu area.

On the part of President Robert Mugabe, he announced on November 28 that his country was no longer a member of the Commonwealth of Nations in spite of being suspended by the same organisation for rigging the country’s election in 2002.

On December 3, the British Monarch and Head of Commonwealth of nations, Queen Elizabeth II paid a historic visit to Nigeria 47 years after her first visit to the country. She also declared open the Commonwealth heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which was held in Abuja, between December 5 and 8.

The anti-corruption crusade of the President Olusegun Obasanjo claimed a victim on December 4 when the Labour and Productivity Minister, Alhaji Husaini Akwanga was dismissed from the federal cabinet for alleged corrupt practices in connection with the National Identity Card Project. Akwanga was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Internal Affairs when the malpractice took place.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) kicked off in Abuja on December 5 with 52 countries including Nigeria participating in attendance. The theme of the meeting according to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Mr. Don McKinnon was “Development and Democracy”.

For some residents of Lagos, December 11 would remain indelible in their minds follwoing a fatal accident that occurred at the tail end of the Third Mainland bridge in Lagos, killing about 20 passengers of a commercial bus, which included two pregnant women.

Also, at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), a former Corporate Affairs Manager with Guinness Nigeria Plc, Princess Edith Ike Mark-Odu, finally gave up the battle against cancer of the breast, which she had been battling with for over a year. Edith Mark-Odu was 56 when she died on December 11.

However, for the lovers of football in Nigeria, December 12 would forever be remembered as the day Enyimba Football Club of Abia State, finally broke the 38 years jinx that trailed the country’s attempt at winning the championship of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The Enyimba players defeated their opponent at the championship, Ismaili of Egypt on a 2-1 goals aggregate to lift the CAF Cup.

Trans-border robbery kingpin, Hamani Tidjani, who met his waterloo early September at Bamako in Mali, was finally dragged before a Nigerian court on December 12 on 204 count charges. The charges counted against him included kidnapping, murder and armed robbery.

Elsewhere in Iraq, despotic president Saddam Hussein was captured by United States-led allied forces on December 13. A bearded and disheveled Saddam was captured in a six-foot “spider” hole at A-Dawr, close to Tikrit, his hometown and north of Baghdad, capital of Iraq. The 66 years old president Saddam had been on the run since April 9, when his government was toppled.

On December 14, the Nigerian Union of Journalists lost six of its members when their bus in the convoy of Ogun State Government returning from a convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja collided with another bus near Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory.

The Federal Government conferred no fewer than 231 persons, including former military president, Ibrahim Babangida and widow of the late Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Mrs. H. I. D. Awolowo with national honours on December 16.

President Olusegun Obasanjo on December 18 presented a budget of N1.16 trillion for 2004 to the joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja.

Christmas day, December 25 was turned sour for some air travllers when their plane crashed shortly after it took off from Benin Republic to Beirut. According to report, no less than 135 people, mostly Lebanese were among the dead.

Another tragedy followed on December 26 when a devastating earthquake occurred in Bam, south east of Tehran, Iran, killing over 30, 000 people and injuring thousands. Most of the victims were given mass burial.

On December 28, about 480 Nigerians wee deported from the North African country of Morocco aboard a cargo plane while over 200 others were reported to have perished in the Mediterranean Sea while crossing over to Spain.

Prophet Lambasts Obj Over Fuel Tax

P.M. News (Lagos) January 2, 2004 by Abimbola Adebayo

Prophet Wale Awoyeye of Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), Majemu Parish, Oyeleru Street Ilasamaja, Lagos, has condemned President Olusegun Obasanjo and other top advisers of his administration over the new fuel tax and corruption in the country.

Prophet Awoyeye at a press briefing in Lagos to present his 2004 Prayer Request book accused the president and his advisers of being insensitive to the plight of the ordinary Nigerian.

He prophesized that this year "is a year of revenge for the country" adding that God instructed him to tell President Obasanjo that it is time for him to serve the people instead of serving himself.

Prophet Awoyeye accused the president of increasing the hardships facing the people instead of reducing it. He cited the proposed fuel tax as an example of the president's penchant for increasing the hardships of the people.

Awoyeye also condemned the increase in corruption in the country. According to him, the president, ministers, senators, commissioners, governors and others in power, have forgotten that they got into their current positions through the votes of the masses.

Cele: Owodunni Urges Reconciliation At Xmas

This Day (Lagos) December 24, 2003, Andrew Ahiante Lagos

A Pastor of the Celestial Church of Christ, Rev. Josiah Kayode Owodunni, has called on members of the church worldwide to come together as one in the spirit of Christmas.

"The time has come for all of us to come together as one. This is the way to celebrate this Christmas period", he declared in his message to the congregation during the thanksgiving service, marking the 30th anniversary of Celestial Church of Christ, Oluwaseyi-Ijeshatedo Parish in Lagos, last weekend.

Quoting profusely from the Holy Bible, he said Christianly love must be sincere and devoid of any bitterness. "Bless those who persecute you, and do not curse, this is the only way we can be seen as being Christ-like", he emphasized.

He said the anniversary called for happy celebration, singing, jubilation as the Parish has weathered through heavy storms and survived all.

Owodunni declared that the Parish owed much to God and the prophet, pastor and founder of the Church, Rev. SBJ Oshoffa who exactly thirty years ago, before starting his sermon at the opening of the Parish, knelt down on the pulpit asking the congregation to permit him to communicate with his God and got up to announce that the name given the Parish by the heavenly hosts is Oluwaseyi.

"We thank God that we have always kept faith with the memory of the Founder of the Church", he stated.

He stressed that the Parish had continually strived to promote the spirit of the constitution and the sanctity of the doctrines of God as contained in the constitution of the C.C.C.

In furtherance of this, he said, the Parish was spiritually directed to introduce into the Celestial calendar certain dates including Redemption Day being last Sunday in January as the day chosen to mark the redemption of the church and its members from the clutches of satan, among others.

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